So I found Mesihi on a website about Albanian literature, referred to as one of the big
Turkish poets, but he is from Prishtina which is the capital of Kosovo, a country that didn’t exist when Mesihi was alive (1470-1512) as the area was at the time a part of the Ottoman empire. Yes, European history is full of these sort of things.
His poem ‘Ode to spring’ (Murabba’ -i bahâr) was translated by Sir William Jones in the mid-to-late-1700s and was for a long time the best known Turkish poem in England.
The spring in referenced in the poem is youth. The line “Drink and enjoy, for the days of spring will soon pass.” which ends every stanza is a clear reference to the passing of time. Both to the literal spring, but also to youth. Mesihi is stating that youth has to be enjoyed while you can. At the same time I don’t get the feeling Mesihi is saying that after spring it’s all down hill. More he reminds me of Shakespeare’s sonnet 104
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. (Shakespeare – Sonnet 104)
Where he isn’t sorry we are growing old. It’s more that he is stating a fact, and that summer and autumn will bring new challenges, possibilities and a new life. To enjoy all of the stages of life to the fullest. This is conveyed in lush descriptions of flowers and animals that probably to the 18th century Englishman felt different from the English countryside.
I also cracked up at the ending where Mesihi is suddenly talking in third person (or maybe he was always talking in third person) and hopes that this poem will become famous. That’s the way to end a love poem about the beauty of youth.
Let us hope, Mesihi, these quatrains will be famed
And will live in memory like those faint-moustached lads, (Ode to spring)
Keep it classy, Mesihi. Keep it classy.
Read the poem online: